Localize the Liturgy!

This is a post by The Abundant Table Farm Project‘s Sarah Nolan and was originally found on chedmyers.org.  The Abundant Table and YAC Blog editor Sarah Holst are working jointly to create resources that support an Earth-to-Altar movement to Localize the Liturgy. Sarah Nolan is the Director of Programs and Community Partnerships at the Abundant Table and is the recipient of the Environmental Stewardship Fellowship through the National Episcopal Church.  “Localize the Liturgy!” is posted here in a spirit of ecumenism. 


Every week, our little house church in Ventura County, CA practices a ritual ceremony, along with millions across the globe, that calls us to touch, taste, smell, see and” re-member” the life and work of a man who equated his body with bread and his blood with wine. Along with these central elements, other powerful symbols such as candles, water, flowers and oils make up these rituals that provide texture and life to the liturgy.

As we participate in liturgy, we are engaging in a cycle of reconnection and re-membrance that draws us closer to God and ourselves, while at the same time pushing us out into the world and towards our neighbor. The ceremonial elements serve as reminders of and guides to this ongoing journey deeper into the divine and into the created cosmos. It is with this journey in mind that we must ask ourselves about what these rituals elements say about our how we relate to the world and, in turn, to God.

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Bread of life. A memoir.

ridmjbni9For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. –1 Corinthians 11:26

I first received the bread on May 3, 1992, at the age of eight. The first person to give me the bread was Father Joe.

Father Joe used to say to me: “We forget who we are. But God never forgets.” He would say this when he wanted me to consider the priesthood.

In the beginning, I ate the bread in the church where I was baptized. Later, I ate the bread at liturgies in our high school gym, all vast and white and smelling like rubber and paint.

I have eaten the bread under a tent in rainy darkness, with hundreds of other students from Jesuit colleges. It was spiritual food for the next morning, when we took up our white-painted crosses, which bore murdered people’s names and ages, and protested in front of the School of the Americas.

I have never eaten the bread in my dad’s church. I am Catholic; they are Lutheran. It’s interesting watching everybody else in church do what you can’t. You feel fidgety. You’re sure they’re all looking at you.  Continue reading

The Word in Peace, Holy Thursday: Christian Trifecta!

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 116:12-13, 15-18; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15

“Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.” – John 13:12-16

You know what I love about the Holy Thursday mass readings? This is the only time that all three readings describe three unique events that are central to our Catholic faith.

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Confession and forgiveness (even when you don’t “need” it)

“No one ought to consider himself a true servant of God who is not tried by many temptations and trials. Temptations overcome are a sort of betrothal ring God gives the soul.” – St. Francis of Assisi

Going through rough patches, it becomes easy to descend into a lazy prayer life, if prayer doesn’t halt altogether. In one such recent trough of emotional health, I caught myself heading in that direction. I missed daily mass.

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Desire, Body, and Catholicism

It is not news to have a Catholic art scandal — this goes all the way back to the medieval times.  But Catholic art scandals, for me, bring up questions about body and sexuality in teachings of Catholicism.  In addition, I wonder how much those teachings have influenced non-practicing Catholics.

This recent scandal includes a sexologist named Goedele Liekens who posed with a habit on the cover of her magazine.  In addition, a bag comes with each issue with a candied host, her picture, and text that read:  Take, Eat, This is My Body.  Understandably, Catholics are upset (by clicking this link, you understand that I no way condone the terrible secular tone of the article therein).

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